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Is Premium Economy class worth it?

8 mins. read

Published in the Sunday Indian Express Magazine - Eye on 24 December, 2023

At a recent Christmas party, a friend walked up to me and asked what I consider a super popular question nowadays: Neil, are flight fares ever going to come down? To this, my response was a straight NO. With airlines today looking at long-term sustainability, it’s hard to believe that airfares are ever going to come down to the levels we were used to seeing in 2019. Airfares are skyrocketing and I think, all of us should get used to the new normal now.

In such times, flying business class whether within India or outside of India has become even more expensive. This means there is a new class of travel that has started gaining popularity - The Premium Economy. A class of service that is designed to provide passengers with a more comfortable and enhanced flying experience compared to standard Economy Class, and is typically more affordable than Business Class. The common features and benefits can include more legroom, wider seats, priority boarding, enhanced meals, extra amenities, dedicated cabin, in-flight entertainment, comfort kits, lounge access, and the list can go on. But here’s where I’d like to bring your attention to the fact that the exact features and benefits of Premium Economy can vary significantly from one airline to another, and even between different aircraft within the same airline's fleet. This means that not all Premium Economy class experiences are the same leading to the question: Is Premium Economy class really worth it? The answer is, it depends.

Many major airlines like Air India, Vistara, Emirates, FinnAir, Qantas, Swiss Air, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways (ANA) offer Premium Economy today. On a recent flight from Singapore’s famous Changi Airport to Mumbai’s Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, I had the opportunity to experience the Premium Economy class on Singapore Airlines’ flagship Airbus A380 jumbo jet! There are many great things about this Premium Economy class including: extra legroom for a 186cm tall person like me, larger entertainment screen as compared to economy class, and the Airline’s BookTheCook initiative which lets you pick Signature Meals curated by Michelin Star chefs from all over the world.

But the experience also prompted me to go dive into many of the Premium Economy class products out there and let me tell you, every Premium Economy class is different, so what experience you get is going to vary and depend on a lot of factors. It’s always good to know what you are going to be getting. For example, a few years ago I was on a flight to Beijing and the premium economy class offering on that flight was just the front two rows of the same economy class and you only got a blanket and priority meal service. On the other hand, Virgin Atlantic to London offers a Premium Economy product that is leaps and bounds ahead of time. You get extra large seats, extra legroom (38 inches), more baggage allowance, premium check-in and even priority boarding. The food offerings are also fun because you get to pre-order from a premium menu.

There’s Qantas where you have more space and legroom (38 or 39 inches depending on the aircraft), noise cancelling headphones, a private cabin and dedicated cabin crew. Then there’s Emirates providing increased comfort, more space and legroom (40 inches), and an enhanced dining experience. The seats boast wider cream leather, raised cushioned leg rests, and a deeper recline for better sleep during flights to Dubai and beyond. Notably, the spacious Premium Economy seats are located at the front of the aircraft, granting passengers priority exit upon landing.

So if there are so many differences, how do you really pick one. So here’s a small guide to keep in mind when picking the Premium Economy class for your next travels. I call it my six point checklist which goes something like this: Seating, Amenities & Services offered, Meal Service, Overall service & perks, Cost, Watch YouTube reviews.

1. Seating:

Most Premium Economy classes offer more spacious seats with extra legroom, allowing for greater comfort during long flights. These seats are typically wider and have better recline options, providing a more relaxed and ergonomic seating position. So one thing to check is the legroom you have (anything more than 38 inches is pretty good) and the width of the seat (should be 19 inches or more)

You should also check whether the airline offers a dedicated section for Premium Economy with a quieter and less crowded atmosphere. And one final point to consider is the seat configuration, such as 2-3-2 or 2-4-2, as it can impact your personal space and access to the aisle.

2. Amenities & Services Offered:

Consider the amenities and services when choosing an airline. Some offer perks like noise-cancelling headphones and enhanced in-flight entertainment. Look for airlines providing comfort kits with blankets, pillows, and toiletries for added convenience. Prioritize airlines offering priority boarding to expedite the process and minimize wait times. This feature is particularly appealing as it allows you to board without standing in lines. Additionally, check for lounge access, especially at airports like Mumbai with impressive lounges offering excellent food and relaxation options for a pleasant pre-arrival experience.

3. Meal Service:

Food is everything. Even when you are up in the air at 35000 ft. So it is always also good to check if you are going to be getting an upgraded meal in Premium Economy. As I mentioned before about Singapore Airlines’ Book-the-Cook initiative, many Premium Economy passengers typically receive upgraded meal options with a choice of dishes and complimentary alcoholic beverages.The quality of way the food is served in Premium Economy is also generally higher than in standard Economy Class.

4. Overall Service & Perks:

Premium Economy often comes with enhanced service from flight attendants, providing a more personalized experience. Some airlines offer priority baggage handling, ensuring your luggage arrives promptly at your destination. while others may include amenity kits, larger personal screens, and increased baggage allowances.

5. Cost:

When assessing Premium Economy offerings, it’s important to compare the price difference between Premium Economy and standard Economy Class tickets to evaluate the value. I always like to consider the length of the flight and how much I am willing to invest in added comfort. So all in all, it’s essential that you weigh the cost against the benefits and determine if the enhanced experience justifies the expense.

6. Watch YouTube Reviews:

And for my sixth and final point, I like to watch YouTube reviews of the specific airline and aircraft. Reviewers often share their first-hand experiences, showcasing seats, amenities, and meal service. It’s always fun to watch these videos because you can pay close attention to both the positive and negative aspects highlighted in the reviews to make an informed decision.

So yup, that’s my 6-point checklist. Finally, I’ll only say one thing. Take advantage of all the things that you have at your disposal and then make your decision on which class of travel to pick. Until the next time, have a super week ahead and I’d love to hear what you think of the various premium economy class offering in India, so do write to me at

December 23, 2023


Neil Patil
Neil Patil

Founder & Director, Veena World

More Blogs by Neil Patil

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